A free-range sponge is a dangerous thing: hanging out at the bottom of the sink, it’s left to accumulate bacteria. Sitting water-laden behind the faucet, it grows mold and leaves a nasty mark on your countertop. Nothing kills your doing-the-dishes vibe (which, let’s be honest, is not much of a vibe in the first place) like a smelly sponge imparting its smelliness onto your hands and your plates.
Okay, enough with gross scene setting and onto the solution. It’s simple: get a sponge holder. You probably know what that is. You might even already own one. But sponge holders come in a variety of designs—some affix to the side of your sink via a suction cup, some hang over your faucet, some simply stand on the countertop—and a lot of them can be massively disappointing. It’s hard to know the best model to buy. It’s hard to know which ones will stay in place, adequately allow for proper drainage and drying, or actually provide convenient, clutter-free storage. So, I tested a few. Read on to find the winners—the best sponge holders. (And if you’ve got a lot of other dish-doing tools to store, read our review of the best sink caddy.)
Best overall: West Elm Sling Sponge Holder
Sometimes simple is best. That truism definitely holds for this over-the-sink sponge holder from West Elm. Sure, it has none of the bells and whistles of other sponge holders I tested (yes, sponge holders can have bells and whistles). It’s just a small, pliable plastic basket—no magnets, or suction cups, or super-stick adhesives. But it could hold a variety of sponges, and (more importantly) did not add to any of the chaos happening around my sink. This holder allows you to keep your sponge inside the sink, meaning it doesn’t have to compete for counter space with your dish soap or hand soap. But it also doesn’t rely on the often faulty, ephemeral power of a suction cup. The basket allows your wet sponge to dry over the sink, preventing any countertop moisture or mess. And it really does allow your sponge to fully dry, which is the best way to prevent bacteria and smell from accumulating.
For something so simple, it does have a few impressive design features. There’s a little cut-out in the center, through which you can slide a dish brush, so there’s a lot of storage bang for your buck for such a small tool. And the handle that loops over your faucet is malleable, meaning you can bend it to fit the exact shape of your sink; you can also remove it easily. If you have a two-basin sink, it can also be shaped to fit over the divider, rather than the faucet.
Overall, this is a versatile, inexpensive option that keeps your sponge dry, accessible, and out of the way.
$7.00, West Elm
If you have more space: S&T Inc. Countertop Sponge Holder
I was so excited about this sponge-holder-meets-dish-soap-dispenser that it was the first product I set up to test. The design appealed to the part of me that loves multi-functional items: The holder contains a basin filled with soap, atop which sits the sponge. Press down on the top, and a spout that reaches into the soap basin releases just the right amount of soap onto your sponge.
I was skeptical that this holder would allow for proper drainage, but after a week of use, I noticed no buildup or residue on the top of the sponge holder—and my sponge hadn’t accumulated any mold or a bad odor.
I didn’t choose this sponge holder as my best overall option because it took up space next to the sink. Then again, the multi-functionality can justify this footprint. It may not be the look everyone is going for in their soap dispenser. Still, this is a great tool if you’d like a soap dispenser and a sponge holder in one.
The ones that didn’t make the cut
You’ve probably seen the adhesive sponge basket in friends’ kitchens before. We’re wary of them generally, because we’ve found anecdotally that the adhesive power doesn’t last. However, this particular model was reliable, stuck well, and could hold a decent amount of cleaning supplies in addition to a sponge. It didn’t win in my tests because the basket hangs low; if you don’t attach it to the very top of your sink, it can touch the bottom. And the adhesive hooks were actually too strong; removing them from the side of my sink required a good few minutes of scraping. And after I’d successfully pried them away, there was adhesive left behind on my sink.
The Oxo aluminum suction sponge holder sticks to your sink by way of a suction cup; I had no problem with it staying stuck to the sink during my weeks of testing (I think more long term testing would really be required to fully assess staying power). It’s a fine option, but we preferred the versatility (and assurance of long-term installation) of our top two options.
These adhesive hook sponge holders, sold under many names on Amazon, allowed for good drainage, were super compact, and didn’t get in the way. Again, they stayed attached to the sink too well. I had to go in with a paring knife, some scissors, and lots of aggressive pulling to finally yank this thing off the side of my sink. So if you’re someone who likes to change things up regularly and can’t commit to having a sponge holder stuck to the side of your sink…maybe don’t go for this one.
Originally Appeared on Epicurious